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Yes, It Is Legitimate to Profit in Business

At a time in the Church when the habitual teaching coming from Rome favors Communism and demonizes Capitalism, it seems opportune to remind our readers of the perennial doctrine taught by previous Popes, which expresses the true mind of the Catholic Church.

One principle of this doctrine is highlighted here by Pius XI showing that it is legitimate for one to make a profit in business and become wealthier, as long as the glory of God and the needs of one's neighbor are duly satisfied.

Pope Pius XI

All experts in social problems are eagerly seeking a structure so fashioned in accordance with the norms of reason that it can lead economic life back to sound and right order. But this order, which we ourselves ardently long for and with all our efforts promote, will be wholly defective and incomplete unless all the activities of men harmoniously unite to imitate and attain, insofar as it lies within human strength, the marvelous unity of the Divine plan.

We mean that perfect order which the Church with great force and power preaches and which right human reason itself demands, that all things be directed to God as the first and supreme end of all created activity, and that all created goods under God be considered as mere instruments to be used only insofar as they lead to the attainment of the supreme end. Nor is it to be thought that gainful occupations are thereby belittled or judged less consonant with human dignity; on the contrary, we are taught to recognize in them with reverence the manifest will of the Divine Creator Who placed man upon the earth to work it and use it in a multitude of ways for his needs.

Those who are engaged in producing goods, therefore, are not forbidden to increase their fortune in a just and lawful manner; for it is only fair that he who renders service to the community and makes it richer should also, through the increased wealth of the community, be made richer himself according to his position, provided that all these things be sought with due respect for the laws of God and without impairing the rights of others and that they be employed in accordance with faith and right reason.

If these principles are observed by everyone, everywhere and always, not only the production and acquisition of goods, but also the use of wealth, which now is seen to be so often contrary to right order, will be brought back soon within the bounds of equity and just distribution.


(Pius XI, Encyclical Quadragesimo anno of May 15, 1931
São Paulo: Edições Paulinas, 1969, n. 135)

Posted January 9, 2016